Cauliflower & Lentil Bake
The origins of this recipe are lost in the mists of time, in fact we would not be surprised to find a tray of it in the tomb of the next Pharaoh to be discovered. Like many of the previous dishes it has gone through many stages of development. The original was made without a white sauce, these days it never is. That's progress for you, mind you, as old hands will know, eventually the wheel will turn full circle and a new generation of cooks will decide it is far superior if the sauce is missed out! Either way it is a fine example of the traditional Eighth Day wholefood style of cookery and although simple is simply delicious. It can be made vegan or dairy based, both versions are given, just miss out the cheese and milk.
1lb Red Lentils
Dash of Shoyu
2 Small or 1 Large Cauliflower
1 Pint Milk - Cow or Soya
1oz Butter or Margarine
1oz Wholemeal Flour
1 Teaspoon Wholegrain Mustard
Pinch of Nutmeg
Pinch of Black Pepper
Pinch of Salt
½lb Bread crumbs
½lb Cheese - grated, or 1 Block Smoked Tofu - chopped small
- Wash and rinse the lentils well place in a good sized, preferably heavy bottomed pan, cover with cold water and add a good dash of shoyu (up to a dessert spoon full). Put on a medium heat until boiling, stirring occasionally to make sure they do not stick. Once boiling turn down the heat and cover. Leave to simmer until cooked. Check from time to time to make sure they do not stick and burn, adding a little water if they dry out too much. Do not add too much water, try not to cook them into a complete mush!
- Peel and thinly slice the onions and fry until soft in a little sunflower oil with a pinch of black pepper. Once soft keep to one side.
- Remove any damaged leaves from the cauliflower and discard , thinly shred the healthy leaves. Cut the cauliflower into small florets and wash both leaves and florets.
- Half fill a medium sized pan with water and bring to the boil. When boiling add the cauliflower and cook for five minutes. Drain and keep to one side.
- To make the white sauce first heat the milk to just below boiling point.
- In a small but heavy pan melt the butter or margarine and, once melted, add the flour and cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously.
- Slowly add the hot milk, stirring all the while to prevent lumps forming. The sauce will thicken almost instantly. Add the mustard and nutmeg to the flour mix and bring back to the boil, stirring all the time. If despite your attention lumps do form, give the sauce a good beating with a whisk or blend it. Some cooks prefer to do the whole operation with a whisk in the first place. In any event once the sauce has come to the boil remove from the heat and season to taste.
- Mix the bread crumbs and cheese or tofu in a suitable bowl and then add a little sunflower oil until the mixture is evenly oiled, make sure not to overdo the oil, it just needs to be moist.
- Add the onions to the cooked lentils mix well and put the mixture in an even layer in the bottom of an ovenproof dish.
- Place the cooked cauliflower in a layer on top of the lentils.
- Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the top.
- Bake in a moderate oven for 30 minutes at: gas mark 5, 190°C, 375°F.
- To make the original version of this recipe make everything as above except the white sauce. Add the mustard to the bread crumb mix, before adding the oil, and layer the dish in the same way finishing with the bread crumb and cheese. This makes for a slightly drier meal but just as tasty and even easier to prepare. You pays your money and you makes your choice. The important thing is the taste of lentils, shoyu and cauliflower, one of the great culinary discoveries of all time.